“Safety first” as the saying goes. Even a single food-related incident can deal a harsh blow to your business, so food safety should always be a top priority. Read on to learn about the dangers you should watch out for and what you can do to ensure your food is safe to eat.
Biological hazards include bacteria, parasites, fungi and viruses. They can develop in poorly handled food or through contamination from an outside source. For example, seafood toxins can occur when bacteria multiplies within the body of a fish that has eaten infected algae. Source your fish from trusted wholesalers, especially if you plan to serve them raw. In all cases of suspected contaminated food, dispose immediately.
Chemical hazards are harmful substances such as pesticides, machine oils, dissolved metals or an excessive amount of food additive. These hazards are present at every stage of food handling — even in your own kitchen. For example: at very high temperatures, non-stick pans can decompose and emit poisonous fumes. Minimise risk by taking the proper care in handling and storing chemicals used in your operation.
Physical hazards are objects which are not a part of food, never was meant to be food, but somehow got into the food. Examples are pieces of glass or metal, toothpicks and jewellery. Finding a physical hazard in your food sends an alarming message to your diners and should be avoided by taking more care during meal preparation.
Watch out for these 3 types of diseases that can be passed from food to people:
Foodborne infections occur from food that is contaminated with pathogens or disease-causing microorganisms. Pathogens are any bacteria, virus, or microorganisms found in food that can cause sickness or disease. Be sure to check for unfamiliar odours, colours and textures, which is a sign of food contamination, and clean and cook your ingredients as thoroughly as possible.
Foodborne intoxications are pathogens introduced to the food from substances such as faecal matter or dirt, which develop into dangerous toxins. It’s best to store your produce in containers to prevent contamination. Inspect your food by smelling, touching and tasting them. If anything is questionable, you’re better off discarding it as cleaning or washing is not 100% fool-proof.
Toxin-mediated infections are caused by food carrying organisms that produce toxins once they are in the diner’s intestines. These organisms are hard to detect as the food can retain its normal smell and taste. Toxin-mediated infections usually occur from improperly cooked spices, meats, raw milks and unwashed lettuce.
Time & temperature abuse is caused by improper cooking, holding, cooling and reheating of food, leading to the growth of pathogens.
Cross contamination occurs when you mix cooked and uncooked food, especially raw meat or fish. Assign different containers for the preparation of each kind of food and avoid un-sanitised food surfaces, utensils and equipment. Use separate towels for specific work areas and tasks.
Poor personal hygiene is a common culprit that’s easily avoidable by following these rules:
Most food handlers know about hygiene but the rules are rarely enforced. Keep your kitchen staff disciplined and provide the facilities to do so.
F is for Food
Food rich in protein and carbohydrates have a higher probability of being affected by pathogens unless handled correctly. Follow the rules above to stop pathogens from growing in these types of food.
A is for Acid
Low-acid or slightly acidic foods like poultry, fish, dairy, eggs and meats have a high potential for infection by pathogens. You can avoid this danger with proper handling.
T is for Temperature
Microorganisms grow in a ‘Temperature Danger Zone’ (TDZ) of 5°C to 56.7°C. Unfortunately, this is also the general room temperature range. Practice proper storage and avoid leaving unattended food in the open.
T is for Time
Don’t keep food at the TDZ for more than 4 hours. That’s enough time for toxins from pathogens to multiply and contaminate the food.
O is for Oxygen
Oxygen helps many microorganisms to grow. Keep food covered and minimise exposure to stall bacterial growth.
M is for Moisture
The more moisture there is, the easier it is for microorganisms to grow, especially with poultry, meat and raw eggs. Limit moisture and keep working surfaces clean and dry.
By understanding the ways foodborne illnesses spread and what you can do to prevent them, you’ll keep your diners safe. Find out how else you can make your kitchen safer.Want more articles and recipes like this?